THE SANCTITY OFSPORTS
I was distressed to read your description of the first "politathlon" (E& D, July 2), and I was the more disturbed when I saw that you hadcontinued the subject the following week. The implication of the two pieces isdecidedly political, and the importance of their subjects to the world of sportis dubious. Since SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has devoted itself to sports, why then letus stick to sports and sports alone, unadulterated by political selections (ifsuch a thing is possible in an election year). I would indeed be loth to seethe most enjoyable of my sanctuaries sullied by the dark influences of theworld's second oldest profession.
I am delighted with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S discovery of the politathlon and amanxious to direct the editors' attention to three other branches of this newsporting field.
First, there isthe theathlon. The arena is generally the front lawn of the local parish churchand the cause is good. Sporting events such as throwing balls at milk cans,pony riding, shooting at toy balloons with popguns are staple features, and theidea generally is to try everything as often as possible at 25¢ a throw, takingdue care not to carry off too many prizes since the Great Umpire presumably hashis eye on you.
Then there is thereunathlon. This has one of the features of the Olympic Games in as much as ittakes place only at regular intervals: the sixth, 10th and 25th reunions ofcollege classes. Events are generally the 50-yard run for dads with more thanfour children; the flapjack race for the better-looking class wives and ofcourse the every-body-welcome softball game. There are also informal sessions,such as the poker game for those corporate executives of $25,000 and over.
July 22, 1956
Lastly, there isthat rather trying, but inescapable, event: the patrathlon. Patrathlons (or asthe pedants have it: patrathla) are scheduled in kindergarten and lower schoolsall over the country on Fathers' Visiting Days. I have attended many, but evenso the rules are still hazy to me although my 6-year-old can explain them.There is much sitting around in circles, complicated clapping of hands andchanting of not altogether clear words at the proper time. Imitative gesturesand movements symbolizing birds, flowers and the like are also part of it.
Each one of thesecurious sporting gatherings follows its own rules as if presided over by anunseen Mr. Brundage, but as far as I know SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is the first tomake a field trip to document a typical politathlon meet. Now that you havemade the pioneering step, go forward. The day is not far off when people willsay that today's politathlon cannot compare to the wonderful old days beforethe livelier bagpipes and the hardy politicos who would think nothing ofstaring "raspberry-flavored success" in the face and meet its meltingglance unflinchingly.
•And don't forgetdelegate-baiting, which is the current rage.—ED.
In his article Virginia's Finest Horseman (SPORTS OF THE PRESIDENTS, July 2),Mr. Durant notes that Washington was a rather poor speller. Spelling rules havechanged considerably in 180 years. Furthermore, at that time there were no setrules for spelling or punctuation and if there had been, Washington would, as arich man's son, have been taught them.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
•Although Websterhad not yet brought out his speller, spelling "with a clear, and full, butsoft voice" was part of a boy's schooling even in Washington's day.However, George Washington, without father or fortune, left school at the ageof about 15. All his life Washington was overly sensitive to "aconsciousness of a defective education," which in part decided him againstwriting his oft-requested commentary on the American Revolution. Washingtonspelled almost entirely by ear, coming up with such haphazard jottings as"corrispondences," "leizure" and "went a hunting [afterfox] and catched none."—ED.
WHO ME, SIR?
Your story about the children's game of Jacqueline (E & D, July 9) bringsto mind a similar but, to me, much superior game called Prince of Paris,already a tradition when I attended the public schools of Los Angeles in the'30s.
The Prince ofParis stood in a semicircle of players who were given such names as Red Cap,Black Cap, Yellow Cap, Green Cap and so on. The Prince of Paris would starteach round by saying:
"Prince ofParis lost his cap—some say this and some say that—but I say—Red Cap!"
Red Cap: "Whome, sir?"
Prince of Paris: "Yes, you sir!"
Red Cap: "You lie, sir!"
Prince of Paris: "Who then, sir?"
Red Cap: "Green Cap, sir."
Green Cap: "Who me, sir?"
Red Cap: "Yes, you sir!" etc.
Thus it went.Each player when it came to the question of "Who then, sir?" could nameany other player, including the Prince of Paris himself. Whenever a playermissed the exact wording or rhythm of the prescribed dialogues, or hesitatedtoo long, or laughed or was considered slow, he was swarmed upon by the otherplayers and given some hearty blows.
It was truly finesport, in its simple way, and I look back at it with fond memories.
EDWIN M. STOFLE
Robert Creamer's idea on selecting the All-Star squads should be widelysupported, and would be a far more acceptable method than the weak onepresently used. I expect that more will be heard on this proposal, and in thevery near future. Joanne Jackson Bratton's frank lament was excellent, as wasthe CONVERSATION PIECE on Stan Musial.
As an avid readerof all publications dealing with the wonderful world of sports, your weeklypresentation is digested from cover to cover. Your candid and objectivereporting, coupled with the capturing of the human element in sports, providesthe completest coverage possible.
I'll be lookingforward to a giant Olympic issue in the fall. Hope you'll include a completelisting of all Olympic track and field records, along with the names of allthose competitors expected to challenge those marks—with their top efforts.
KEVIN I. SULLIVAN
Loring AFB, Maine
•Mr. Sullivanwill not be disappointed.—ED.
Your proposed plan for next year's All-Star Game voting seems workable, butcomplicated—a publicity man's nightmare.
However youoffered no solution to Ford Frick's nightmare of counting the ballots. Here'sSPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S chance to bat 1.000! Offer to take over the job from Frickand tabulate the votes in your office. You have a national circulation andmaybe the farce of five Redlegs on the team would not be repeated in thefuture.
FRED M. CASSIDY
NEW USE FOR ANOLD WORD
Please define the word BIOPERSE as used in connection with the article on StanMusial (SI, July 9).
FRED L. DEAKINS
Fort Worth, Texas
•Bioperse, anatural contraction of the words biography and personality, was invented manyyears ago by Time, Inc.'s newsbureau in wiring its correspondents in thefield.—ED.
I do not make a practice of writing letters to editors, but "Rhubarbs"and Baseball the Roman Way (SI, June 25) simply got under my skin, especiallythe description of the Brooklins of Florence, making their own baseballs inorder to show the umpires three balls to prevent forfeiture of games.
Why couldn't allour prosperous clubs do something to encourage these struggling onesabroad?
Let's send thequantity of wasted, slightly imperfect or used, balls to the foreign teams orto a pool for distribution. Equipment, such as gloves, bats, masks, protectors,shin-guards, that is discarded could be salvaged, repaired and sent along.
I would like tosee some Readers Take Over from here.
I am a chartermember of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and enjoy everything from cover to cover.Especially the 19TH HOLE. Readers that gripe never had it so good, since SPORTSILLUSTRATED started publication.
G. M. EATON
Los Altos, Calif.
•Readers thatgripe? What about gripers that read? Them we love.—ED.
EVERY DAY ISLADIES' DAY
If there is another George Weller, let me have him! His Baseball the Roman Waywas the most chuckling article I ever read—more of him, please.
My doctor's wifeand I adore baseball. I called her to see if she had the June 25 issue. Shescreamed and said she was never without SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
MRS. FRANK R. CAUSEY
THE ST. LOUISGIANTS
Although the Supreme Court has twice ruled that baseball is not a business, welive in an era when Boston is Milwaukee, Philadelphia is Kansas City and, upon24-hour notice, the captain of the St. Louis Cardinals is a Giant and thecaptain of the Giants is a Cardinal.
But as RedSchoendienst said, "New York money is as good as St. Louis money," adictum which concurs with the much-publicized dissenting opinion of "Mr.Justice" Frank Lane who insists daily that baseball is nothing if not abusiness.
As a monumentalstruggle between the hometown heroes and the pin-striped visiting villians,baseball is worth arguing over and paying for. As a purely mechanical sport inwhich participants choose sides, nine against nine, it is something else.
In an era of masstrading, city swapping and dropping the pilot, the illusion is fastdisappearing. The Lanes, Veecks et al. may be great shakes in a proxy fight,but they are doing little good for baseball. As a Cardinal fan (with nofinancial entanglement) I am now left to ponder my attitude if the St. LouisGiants win the pennant.
Last year'sseventh-place Cardinals were at least the lineal, if not the statistical, heirsof the Gashouse Gang, But what is a Cardinal fan when you don't know what is aCardinal?
I WISH HERWELL
Joanne Bratton's story of her champion husband's downfall was very moving (SI,July 9). I saw Johnny fight twice and if he had had the good fortune of beinghandled right, Johnny would have been a great champion in his class. I guessMrs. Bratton is right in saying that he lacked maturity, both as a fighter andman. Mrs. Bratton is a brave woman, all my best wishes are with her when shesays: "We have our adorable son and each other, and I think these thingsalone are worth all of the wasted years Johnny spent in the fight ring."Does SPORTS ILLUSTRATED have a picture of Ricky?
B. L. ROBERTS
The equestrian events of the Olympic Games at Stockholm did not include themodern pentathlon, which I believe contains an equestrian event of 5,000 metersof cross-country riding. Did they have the cross-country riding of thethree-day event in Stockholm and defer the rest for Australia? Or are theriders going to compete on strange horses?
Las Vegas, Nev.
•Australianquarantine regulations forbid the import of horses. The complete pentathlonwill be run in Melbourne, using Australian horses.—ED.
Just read how to remove a fishhook (Tips for the Trail, SI, July 2). Howprimitive can you get?
The simplest,neatest way is to run a sharp, pointed knife blade along the inside of the hookto the barb. One or two short movements will cut the tissues under the barb andthen, leaving the blade where it is to cover the barb, the hook can be veryneatly backed out. No sweat, no strain, no trauma.
HENRY J. VOMACKA
•Fishermen notsurgically inclined still prefer to push the hook through the skin and cut offthe barb.—ED.
COLD COMFORT INGREAT BRITAIN
I am thoroughly puzzled by Henry Longhurst's cryptic reference to the refusalof Stan Leonard and Al Balding to play in the Commonwealth vs. Britain golfmatches (SI, July 16). Why did they feel "not welcome" in England? Whathappened? Did Canada have any representation at all?
•Canada was notrepresented. Stan Leonard and Al Balding, a couple of young Canadian pros usedto the cheerful amenities of New World locker rooms, were totally unpreparedfor England's stark and Spartan approach toward golf. The two Canadians werefar less impressed by the hoary trophies and traditions of the almostcentury-old Royal Liverpool Golf Club than they were by the awful weather, theunavailability of hot food and the tournament committee's neglect in reservinghotel space for Leonard. Rooms were finally found 12 miles away in Liverpool(as much a symbol of urban dreariness in English humor as Hoboken is here), butLeonard and his family soon fell into a state of brooding depression over theseaccommodations. Someone had scattered dead fish around the hotel door, andevery night scores of trucks rumbled past their windows to the open vegetablemarket down the block. Under these circumstances Leonard and Balding found ithard to give of their best on the links (Balding finished 17th and Leonardfailed to reach the final day). Both players were scheduled to play in theCommonwealth matches two weeks away, but the prospect of a fortnight inLiverpool was too much: the Canadians packed their bags, Leonard gave a lastshuddering look at the hotel and both went home to Canada. Henry Longhurst, aneminent British golf writer who reported on the Open for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED,was nonplussed. "Most young men of my acquaintance," he wrote in theLondon Sunday Times, "would give anything for a five weeks' trip, firstclass and free, to the New World, but the process in reverse lacks appeal....Human nature has not changed much since Shakespeare wrote "Blow, Blow, thouwinter wind...." Said Stan Leonard: "I've had more fun and seen betterorganization in a Vancouver caddies tournament."—ED.
Enjoyed The Pikes Peak Boys (SI, July 2) but confused by some remarks in thearticle. I refer to the following quote: "He [Dad Unser] does commandeerprize money when the Unser boys win it—which they do frequently. Dad officiallyowns and enters all the cars the boys drive. This preserves the boys' amateurstatus."
By what line ofreasoning can one arrive at this conclusion?
•Amateurregulations are not rigidly defined in automobile racing. Although the Unserboys receive no money for driving their father's cars, they are not amateurs bySCCA standards, which in general forbid entering competitions for prizemoney.—ED.
Dad Unser and his Pikes Peak boys was a fine story and I see they did allright. But why no picture of Uncle Louis? How did he make out on the climb?
•Uncle Louis (seebelow) came in a respectable sixth.—ED.
HOW GOOD IT ALLWAS
This one time I will not put it off! I have just finished Olympians Are YourNeighbors (SI, July 9), and it is essential that I tell you how good I thoughtit was.
I am not afollower of track and field, but I did watch the Olympic trials on television.As I read your article I again felt the thrill of watching Tom Courtney burstthrough to win his race. A few "beads of perspiration" came to my eyeswhen I thought of Whitfield who had tried so hard, had deserved so much andgotten so little.
I am in a real stew over the trials out in Los Angeles.
It is beyond myunderstanding how truly great track and field men of Sime's and Bragg's calibercan be out of the Olympics. I am beginning to agree with some of the Englishwriters that England has the best and fairest way of picking men for theOlympic team.
DON'T GIVE THEM AHARD TIME
It is not my contention that the three athletes qualifying in each event areactually the best in the United States, but they did come through underterrific pressure.
This samepressure will be present at the Olympic Games.
A team picked bya committee would result in tremendous repercussions long after the OlympicGames were completed as different localities would be up in arms because theirJohnny wasn't selected.
The United StatesOlympic Committee would have had a hard time selecting men even in some of ourso-called weak events. Take for instance the 5,000-meter run. Starting with thefirst performance in 1920 and ending in 1955, a grand total of 21 Americans hadbettered 15 minutes for the event, according to my research, whereas thisseason no less than 16 runners accomplished that feat. With so many first-classathletes in each event a final elimination test has to be staged to separatethree representatives from the rest of the pack.
Many thanks toRoy Terrell, who brought me a solid month of topnotch reporting.
M/SGT. ROBERT A.GILMORE, USAF Great Falls, Mont.
WHERE IS OURCARROT-TOPPED BOY?
The sports fans in North Carolina and the Atlantic Coast Conference area areheavy-hearted these days. There are no bones to pick with anyone connected withthe Olympic Committee, for regulations are regulations and they are as fair forone boy as another.
Morrow is afine-appearing young man and a distinct credit to the track and field sport,but no one in this section would concede him or anyone else a better than 50-50chance to beat a Dave Sime in condition. We have seen Dave really pour, on thecoal too many times to ask any quarter.
Other fellowshave had similar heartbreak, that is part of life and the test of a man, butthere is still an empty feeling when we think of the boat sailing to Australiawithout our carrot-topped boy.
JOHN W. ROGERS
The photographs of the polar bear waddling across the ice and scrabbling up thepressure ridge were surely worth the doctor's trip (White Giant of the IcyNorth, July 9)....
Why encourage thepublic to gloat over a carcass lying in its life blood, and so take from anoble animal its dignity as well as its life?...
J. W. PENFOLD
You admire the polar bear—I like Fisher, the dentist-hunter. Before I knock outa front tooth and move to Bellingham, Washington, U.S. mind telling if he'smarried?
•Dr. Fisher isfair game.—ED.
THE BETTER THINGSOF LIFE
I am most upset that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should print a story about a manmurdering a bear. Surely there are many, many better things to writeabout....
MRS. EDWIN G. GRELLICH
May I offer a question for Jemail's HOT-BOX? "If animals were equipped withhigh-powered firearms and binoculars and airplanes, how many hunters wouldthere be?"
ARCHIE G. KEIGAN, M.D.
East Braintree, Mass.
EVERYBODY ISREADY AT ST. CHARLES
Since our situation is not of the ordinary, I thought you might appreciate aword of approval from the students here at St. Charles Seminary. We receiveSPORTS ILLUSTRATED by mail and it really goes the rounds. Then when it has beenduly read and digested, the controversial articles are rehashed, X-RAY isX-rayed, and finally (since by that time it is Thursday again) everybody isready for your next issue.
Incidentally, ifyou don't think Dedini's cartoon of the golfing Brothers (SI, July 2) is funny,picture to yourself 19 young men (including one umpire) running from thebaseball diamond and asking their already washed, combed and"cassocked" friends if that "was really the five minute warningbell." You can be sure it's no joke.
ANTHONY REPAS, C.Pp.S.
•For a lapse ofhumility in one of our cassocked friends, see below.—ED.
The Wyllies may be "an outstanding husband-wife team in the booming sportscar racing field" (PAT ON THE BACK, June 18), but James and Marion Lowe ofSanta Cruz, California are "the outstanding husband-wife team."
Jim, in hisgrowling Frazer-Nash, is a consistent winner in Class E and can be counted onto finish a race in a high over-all position, beating Ferraris, Allards, etc.with embarrassing regularity. Marion, in her Frazer-Nash (more ladylike thanJim's in sound and appearance, but strictly a man-sized car in performance),wins the ladies' races as often as she enters and has outdistanced a lot of menin our western races.
PETER L. OVERMIRE